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The Washington Times
August 17, 1999

In-laws, sound advice and a capital gathering

By Michael Farris
The Washington Times
August 17, 1999

This week, I want to share some quick thoughts about three issues.

  • How can I improve my in-laws views of home-schooling?

    My wife’s mother recently celebrated her 75th birthday. (I know she’s my mother-in-law, but somehow that seems like an inherently pejorative term). We held a big party for her in Pennsylvania with relatives and old friends.

    Among other presents my wife gave the guest of honor was a scrapbook. It was the hit of the evening. My wife had had each of the children write a short letter to their grandmother. They also had drawn pictures.

    My wife also had selected examples of their recent schoolwork to include. The gift was not only personally appealing, but also gave a tremendous insight into the nature and quality of our home-schooling.

    Many parents have told me that their parents or other relatives are distrustful of their decision to home-school. I believe it is hard for someone to distrust a form of education that teaches children respect and gratitude, and demonstrates excellent academic work.

    A scrapbook that says thanks to grandma, and grandpa or some other relative cannot help but be a big hit with a dubious relative.

    As you go through the year, begin collecting various papers, projects, poems, and artwork which can be placed in a scrapbook. At year’s end, you will have a treasure that may do wonders in your extended family.

  • Advice columnist Ann Landers recognizes the value of home schooling.

    In her national column of Aug. 3, she gave home schooling a friendly plug. In response to a mother who was complaining about her children’s serious problems with bullies, Miss Landers urged parents to deal with school officials to get such problems resolved.

    Failing that, she said, parents should consider their alternatives. At the end, she said “And yes, home schooling is also a viable option.” It’s just one more sign of progress in the public recognition of both the safety and academic success of home education.

  • Home schooling families will get an exciting opportunity to gather in the nation's capital.

    On Sept. 24, DAR Constitution Hall will be full of 3,000 home-schooling parents and children in Home School Legal Defense Association’s first-ever Conference at the Capitol. The theme of the conference is “Proclaim Liberty,” and it will feature a well-recognized line-up of speakers.

    All presidential candidates from both major parties were invited to speak, and several have accepted. Gary Bauer, Sen. Bob Smith, Steve Forbes, and Pat Buchanan are confirmed. Laura Bush, first lady of Texas, is expected to stand in for her husband, Gov. George W. Bush.

    Several leading members of Congress also will present topics of special interest to home-schoolers including House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Rep. Steve Largent, and Rep. David McIntosh. Beverly LaHaye (Concerned Women for America) and Paul Weyerich (Free Congress Foundation) both will present the perspective of longtime national pro-family leaders.

    Other scheduled speakers include John Fund (Wall Street Journal) Bob Jones IV (World magazine), Phillip E. Johnson (Univeristy of California at Berkley), who will—surprise—give a great talk on the evidence against evolution, John Lenczowski (Institute of World Politics), and Bill Parker (

    The conference is open to the public—you don’t have to be a home-schooler to attend. Registration and ticket information is available at 540.338.5600 or

    And, yes, your faithful Family Times columnist will also give a talk.
    My subject? “Reclaiming the Original Intent of the Constitution.” It will be both practical and understandable—I promise.

    Michael Farris is the father of 10 home-schooled children and president of the
    Home School Legal Defense Association

    Copyright 1999 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit our web site at